Ex-Works (EXW) Meaning

EXW Incoterm stands for EX Works, an international trading principle or Incoterm© was first introduced in 1936 by the International Chamber of Commerce & is also featured as one of the 11 incoterms of 2020. Having an EXW arrangement means that there is minimum obligation for the seller, whereby he is responsible only till the delivery of goods at the named place, and the buyer covers the entire shipping cost.

EXW appears to be more in favor of the seller as he has no charges to pay once the goods have left the premises. However the buyer may have certain advantages, if he manages to reduce the transportation costs and handle the shipping process more efficiently.

Shipping Terms in Ex Works (EXW)

EX Works - EXW Incoterms Shipping Terms Following are the ex works shipping terms 2020:

  • The seller is only responsible for maintaining goods at the initial stage.
  • The whole shipping procedure rests with the buyer.
  • Buyer is only responsible for loading goods from place of origin to ultimately his warehouse/factory.
  • All legal formalities are taken care of by the buyer.
  • All the charges, risk and responsibility of goods is again the buyer’s duty, from the warehouse to his place.

Ex Works (EXW) terms for Buyer & Seller

Factory terms

Seller Goods provided by the seller are mostly from his own factory/warehouse. He is obliged to prepare the goods for collection, after which the buyer will inspect and load the goods for transport in accordance to the factory terms and conditions agreed between the buyer and the seller.

Buyer Buyer has to arrange transport of goods from the seller’s factory to his own factory. He has to take care of loading goods from the seller’s factory and then complete the shipping process and finally unload goods at his factory.

Packaging terms

Seller These Packaging terms include the checking, marking and packaging of goods in international trade. Seller has to ensure that the packaging is done in a manner which is approved for export, and has to do so at his own cost.

Buyer There can be few exceptions to the packaging terms such as the seller providing invoice or labelling/marking of goods, but in addition to that, the buyer has no obligation for packaging of goods.

Loading and unloading

Seller In the incoterm EXW, the seller has no obligation to help the buyer with loading and unloading, as he is only liable till delivering the goods at the specified place, which is usually his own warehouse. However the seller may load the goods, but at the buyer’s risk and cost.

Buyer As the procedure is carried on by the buyer the loading and unloading of goods at all stages rests with the buyer.

  • Initial stage: Loading of goods from seller’s factory/warehouse.
  • Second stage: Unloading them and preparing them for shipping procedures.
  • Third stage: Loading of goods for shipping.
  • Fourth stage: Unloading them at the port (buyer’s port).
  • Fifth stage: Loading them from port to transporting them till the factory (buyer’s warehouse).


Seller Seller has to provide the buyer with the following documents for the documentation:

These are needed in situations where the seller is entitled to carry out the delivery process.

Buyer Seller provides proof to the buyer, as goods are arranged by him. The seller may provide documentation to the buyer such as quality product, license, certifications, receipts, and more.

Delivery terms

Seller The seller has to deliver the goods at the named place, within the stipulated time frame. In the delivery conditions of ex works, where there is no mention of the named place then it can be assumed that the goods will be made available at the factory.

Buyer Delivery point in the process of ex work is the seller's factory, so the buyer’s pickup and delivery starts from the place of origin. Stages involve picking up from the factory, delivering to port, shipping process, and then getting it delivered at his own warehouse

Freight terms

Seller Because the seller is not involved in any activities related to the transportation of goods, he is not responsible for bearing freight charges according to freight terms. But at the buyer’s risk and cost, he may provide assistance to the buyer during the export process.

Buyer Buyer has almost full control over shipping and transport activities. He is responsible for paying the truck charges, ocean freight charges and shipping charges. Further, he is also responsible for all the future costs associated with delivering the goods.

Customs Clearance

Seller There is no obligation for the seller for clearing the goods in customs, as he has no role to play in the process of delivery and transportation. However if the buyer requests, the export clearance documents can be provided by the seller, but at the buyer’s risk and cost.

Buyer As the whole process is carried out by the buyer, he has to pay for custom duties and bear all import and export charges.


Seller Seller has no obligation to provide any insurance cover. However, he may provide assistance to the buyer in arranging insurance cover for the goods while they are in transit, at buyer’s cost.

Buyer Risk of goods is the buyer's responsibility. Any damage of goods during the process will be borne by the buyer. So the decision of insuring goods rests with the buyer, and he may or may not insure the goods accordingly

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Ex Works Incoterms Example

The quotation for Ex works is mostly calculated by the buyer to reduce the value, i.e., added cost imposed by sellers in the shipping process.

Ex Works transaction is often undertaken in situations where the buyer perceives that the shipping terms can be better handled by himself.

For instance, say Company A has 100 generators to export to Company B, wherein Company A charges $400 per generator, including the shipping cost, and quotes $300 without the shipping cost. Now if the buyer can arrange for a shipping cost lower than what company A is charging him, say at a minimum rate of $70, then he saves $30 for every generator and he can thus manage his cost of importing.


Difference between EXW & FOB

Also read: FOB (Free on Board) Incoterms | Meaning, Shipping Terms & More

Ex-Works FAQs

Who pays freight in ex works?

The buyer is responsible for all freight charges under ex works. The seller may carry out few carriage related responsibilities but only at buyer's risk and cost.

How do you calculate ex works cost?

In ex works, for a seller the cost or price that he will quote to the buyer will be the price of goods as decided by him, and it may also include cost of shipping if the shipping procedure is being carried out by him as per the agreement between him and the buyer (the buyer has to pay him back the cost of shipping since its not his responsibility to cover it).

Who handles the custom clearance procedure under ex works?

Since, in the process under ex works, the entire responsibility for moving the goods from the beginning itself rests with the buyer, he remains liable for export as well as import customs clearance procedures. The seller at buyer’s request/demand may pick up few customs clearance proceedings but again at buyer's risk and cost.

What is the difference between Ex Works and FCA?

In ex works the responsibility for the goods is on buyer from the warehouse / point of pickup whereas in FCA the export cleared goods are delivered by the seller to the carrier to the defined location as per the terms and conditions that both seller and the buyer have agreed upon. You may find more details about roles, responsibilities & charges for FCA incoterms here.

From the said point of delivery the buyer needs to take the entire responsibility.

What is the difference between Ex Works and DDP?

When it comes to DDP it is the opposite of ex works, in ex works the seller has no responsibility of the goods after the pick up from the warehouse/ point of pick up by the buyer. Whereas in DDP (Delivery Duty Paid) the seller the seller bears all costs & risks involved in delivering the goods to the nominated place.

What is the difference between Ex Works and CIF?

In CIF (Cost , Insurance & Freight), the seller has to bear the charges related to the cost of transportation, any loss or damage to the product, custom duties, inspection or rerouting & more of the goods until they are loaded at the buyers end. Once the goods are loaded the buyer needs to take care of the rest. Whereas in ex works the seller has to bear no such costs.

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